Detroit Lions: Heading into the NFL Combine

Players, coaches, and team officials have arrived in Indianapolis for the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine. Workouts will take place from Saturday until Tuesday and players will meet with teams for interviews and medical exams before and after their scheduled workouts. Here is this weekend’s full schedule, courtesy of NFL.com.

Heading into the draft (and excluding potential free-agent signings) the Detroit Lions have two positions they greatly need to address; wide receiver and cornerback. The Lions are also in the market for; safety, outside linebacker, and center. If Detroit is unable to bring back Brandon Pettigrew and Willie Young, then tight end and defensive end would also be added to that list.

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The combine usually has a huge impact on the first 15 picks of the draft; player workouts lead to some players falling out of the top-15, whereas others move up to the top-15. Here are a few players that would be a good fit and could be available at the 10th overall pick for the Lions:

Sammy Watkins, WR - Clemson

Sammy Watkins, WR – Clemson

Sammy Watkins, Wide receiver – Clemson

Many scouts have Watkins as the best receiver in this year’s draft and for some reason, some have Watkins falling into the lap of the Lions. There are two reasons why this is a possibility: there are four or five teams ahead of the Lions who are in need of a quarterback and it is likely that four quarterbacks will be chosen in the first nine picks, which could easily make Watkins fall to the Lions. Secondly, if his speed and size aren’t what teams originally thought then Mike Evans could be viewed as the best receiver in the draft. If he’s available, it’s a no-brainer.

Anthony Barr, Outside linebacker – UCLA

Standing at 6-foot-4 and weighing 250-pounds, Barr was an unstoppable pass-rusher due to his lethal combination of size, strength, and speed. Outside of Stephen Tulloch and DeAndre Levy, Detroit needs help at the linebacker position. Defensive coordinator Terryl Austin said that he will continue using a 4-3 base but expects on incorporating some 3-4 wrinkles, which may be the selling point on selecting Barr.

Darqueze Dennard, Cornerback – Michigan State

In regards to the best corner of the draft, some say that belongs to Dennard while others point to Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert. The main concern about Dennard is his speed. Scouts praise his physicality and his ability to make plays on the ball, if he can run a 4.4 in the 40-yard dash then he could be a lock at the 10th overall pick. However, taking a corner in the top-ten is risky if there is another guy on the board who can come in and immediately make a difference on Sundays.

Khalil Mack, Outside linebacker – Buffalo

There is a great possibility that a player from the MAC will be a top-ten selection in back-to-back years. (Eric Fisher from Central Michigan was the first pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, Fire Up Chips!) Mack is another great pass-rusher at the linebacker position who was a dominating force on the defensive side of the ball. He can also rush the passer from the defensive end position.

Mike Evans, Wide receiver – Texas A&M

Evans is a big, strong-handed, physical receiver. The glaring weakness about his game is his lack of speed. If Evans can show that his speed won’t limit his production at the next level, then he could easily fit right in lining up opposite of Calvin Johnson. Look for the Lions to pull the trigger on Evans if Watkins is off the board and the best corner is a mid-late first round projection.

Justin Gilbert, Cornerback – Oklahoma State

Gilbert’s talents are on the opposite side of the spectrum compared to Dennard. His quickness and speed has deemed him the best man-cover corner in the draft but he tends to shy away from physical play. Gilbert may move ahead of Dennard after the combine but unlike Dennard, Gilbert is unable to disprove his weakness during these workouts. One possibility is for the Lions to move back a few picks and take Gilbert there.

Read more Lions news, rumors, and opinion on our Detroit Lions team page

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